Dollars & Sense

Ruley, Diettrick, Viselli headline SoDel stars behind new Bluecoast location

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The chefs at the new Bluecoast in Rehoboth from left, Scott Viselli, Doug Ruley and Jason Diettrick.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The chefs at the new Bluecoast in Rehoboth from left, Scott Viselli, Doug Ruley and Jason Diettrick.Choosing the right menu took about 10 months. Choosing the right blueprint for their now 10th restaurant took nearly that long, too.

But even with the layout designed entirely around the restaurant’s open kitchen — setting the stage for the chefs of SoDel Concepts more so than ever before — choosing the right chefs for the job took hardly any time at all for SoDel Concepts President Scott Kammerer and Vice President/Corporate Chef Doug Ruley.

“It was important to us to make the open kitchen a focal point, so you could see the action and from every seat,” said Kammerer of the new Bluecoast location on Route 1 in Rehoboth Beach, which celebrated its grand opening earlier this month.

“An open kitchen connects you more to the food and connects you more to the chefs. We’re a chef-driven company at SoDel Concepts. The chefs are the stars — and these are three of our biggest.”

Newlyweds launch Sandy Pony Donuts food truck near Bethany

Coastal Point photo • Shaun M. Lambert: Sandy Pony owners Brea Reeves and Ben Wang, top, show off a dozen of their made-to-order donuts.Coastal Point photo • Shaun M. Lambert: Sandy Pony owners Brea Reeves and Ben Wang, top, show off a dozen of their made-to-order donuts.They may have been still dodging rice, but for the young newlywed couple, it was time to make the doughnuts.

After saying their “I do’s” on June 3, Ben Wang and Brea Reeves were off to the Bethany Beach area just one week later, for the grand opening of their new food truck, Sandy Pony Donuts, on Saturday, June 10, trading in a honeymoon suite for a sweet honeymoon.

“You could say this is our honeymoon,” said Reeves, with a laugh. “We literally are together every second of every day now.”

“Hey, it was her decision to want to work with me,” added Wang, joking back. “I’m probably the harder one to work with, because I always manage to get in the way somehow. But it’s just always worked out.”

Three Blonde Bakers get literal with new 3BB Café next door

Coastal Point photo • Shaun M. Lambert: Cassidy Baker, left, and Brittany Baker show off one of the 3BB Cafe's new homemade ‘cake-pops’ and croissants. Coastal Point photo • Shaun M. Lambert: Cassidy Baker, left, and Brittany Baker show off one of the 3BB Cafe's new homemade ‘cake-pops’ and croissants. The name Three Blonde Bakers was already all but famous along the Bethany Beach boardwalk, whether it be for their scoop selection of Vanderwende Farm Creamery classics or ever-changing array of off-the-wall homemade fudge flavors.

But the now-officially-baking blonde Bakers are no longer just fudging around when it comes to that name being literal, recently launching their latest boardwalk venture with the 3BB Café in the space right next door.

“Cassidy has always wanted to open up her own bakery,” said Brittany Baker of her younger sister and Baker-family baking authority, Cassidy Baker, who learned her trade at Ruthie’s Bakery in Bethany. “When the Orheleins [Michael and Hope] told us that they were moving the gallery across the mall, we knew we had to go for it.”

“People would always come up and asked about baked goods, with the name,” added Cassidy Baker with a laugh. “It’s definitely nice to finally have an established bakery now.”

County Bank to host community shred event

Identity-theft prevention and giving back to the community are two main goals of County Bank’s community shred event on Friday, June 16.

TOP BUN

Top Dog Grill aims to serve up something new in Bethany Beach

Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Owners Darin Dryden and Adam Lehman show off some of Top Dog Grill's offerings.Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Owners Darin Dryden and Adam Lehman show off some of Top Dog Grill's offerings.They may not be saving the skies in the 1986 action-thriller “Top Gun,” but Darin Dryden and Adam Lehman might as well be Goose and Maverick when it comes to saving Bethany Beach from what they see as the usual options of boardwalk dining — and their mission to serve up the town’s “Top Bun.”

With Dryden’s experience in business and Lehman’s in the culinary arts, the two long-time friends teamed up last summer with the aim of offering the area something new, opening the doors to Top Dog Grill in June of 2016.

“We’re trying to offer a good, affordable option in Bethany, and trying to do it a little differently than everybody else,” said Lehman.

“It’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a while,” added Dryden. “Both of us are here every day. He’s got the culinary background. I’ve got the business background. My wife’s an accountant, she does the books. It’s a good team.”

Taco Taco now serving up breakfast breakfast

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Kevin Martin and Stephanie Baker show off some of the new menu items at Taco Taco.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Kevin Martin and Stephanie Baker show off some of the new menu items at Taco Taco.They’re doing it quick. They’re doing it simple. They’re doing it the customer’s way.

And now, they’re doing it for breakfast, too.

Kevin Martin and Stephanie Baker first introduced their “good food fast” philosophy to Millville with Taco Taco in the winter of 2016, enjoying a successful first summer season while offering up “fresh Mex” fare for both lunch and dinner, whether dining in or ordering out.

That’s the same concept that Taco Taco will stay true to this summer, with the addition of the all-new a.m. menu-options making their burrito-board debut by popular demand.

“Just about anything that you could want for breakfast, we’ve got it here,” said Kevin Martin. “Everyone who’s tried it has had nothing but good things to say. People are coming back. We’ve even had people come in from California and the Southwest and tell us that it was the best breakfast burrito they’ve ever had.”

‘Fins fam’ finds home in Bethany with Fins Ale House & Raw Bar

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: Head chef Celaso Morales, left, owner Jeff Hamer, second from right, and Director of Operations Briana Roviske gather with the crew during their opening-night celebration last Thursday, May 25.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: Head chef Celaso Morales, left, owner Jeff Hamer, second from right, and Director of Operations Briana Roviske gather with the crew during their opening-night celebration last Thursday, May 25.It’s what Jeff Hamer, president and founder of the Fins Hospitality Group, likes to refer to as “being the rising tide.”

The long-time restaurateur has built his success directly around that of his “Fins family,” ever since his days of launching his very first venture in Rehoboth Beach.

“That’s why we like to say, ‘It’s the rising tide,’” Hamer explained. “If we can provide good-paying jobs, we can lift the people up around us, then the community just becomes stronger. [Our employees] all have families, homes in the areas, mortgages, their kids are in school — they have a stake in the community.

“That’s really been our blessing — it’s not about me when people say they love Fins,” he continued. “It’s the employees. They’re the ones that do it. I come up with the ideas and kind of paint broad strokes, and they’re the ones that make it happen. They make Fins, they really do.”

Big Chill Beach Club breaks out umbrella room with a view

New restaurant at state park offers inlet and ocean views, beachfront eats

Coastal Point • Submitted: Big Chill Beach Club has a view of the Indian River Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.Coastal Point • Submitted: Big Chill Beach Club has a view of the Indian River Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.Like a summer sun rising above the Atlantic Ocean, the large yellow umbrella atop the concession building at Delaware Seashore State Parks concession stand signals a fresh start.

The umbrella is the signature piece of the new Big Chill Beach Club; it sits atop the venue’s glass-enclosed eating area. That area is surrounded by a large deck, where diners can enjoy 360-degree views encompassing the ocean, the Indian River Inlet Bridge and the Indian River Bay.

Those who would rather keep their feet in the sand can do so by taking their food back to the beach or by sitting at tables in the sand at the new eatery.

A partnership between Delaware State Parks and La Vida Hospitality Group, the Big Chill Beach Club brings to the venture the group’s experience with its other projects, Crooked Hammock Brewery, Restaurant & Backyard Beer Garden; Fork+Flask at Nage; Taco Reho food truck; and the original Big Chill Cantina.

PNC closing downtown Selbyville branch

Corner bank has existed since 1903

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant : The PNC Bank branch in Selbyville will close June 16.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant : The PNC Bank branch in Selbyville will close June 16.Selbyville is losing one of its two banks this spring. The PNC Bank at the corner of Church Street and Main Street will permanently close its doors at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 16.

The ATM will remain on-site at 1 West Church Street immediately after the office closes, although there is no timeframe for that availability. It’s a higher-functioning ATM that can process deposits.

Why is the bank closing? Basically, PNC representatives said, people use machines more for banking, and PNC doesn’t need a two-story office building on Church Street anymore.

“Over the last several years, we have been going over an evaluation of our overall branch network,” said PNC spokesperson Marcey Zwiebel. “We’ve also just been looking at data that says the way customers use branches is changing. They’re increasingly using the convenient and alternative channels” — online, mobile or ATM banking — “for many of the basic transactions that they used to use the branch for… We’ve been taking a look at how we can support our customers when and how and where they want.”

‘Life by the slice’

Fresh ingredients, same recipe for owners of Pomodoro Pizzeria in Bethany Beach

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert Rose and Brian Conte hold up a white spinach with ricotta, fresh garlic and olive oil pizza in their new pizzeria in Bethany Beach.It was an offer that they couldn’t refuse.

After purchasing a home in Millville By the Sea six years ago, the search had been on for the Naples, Italy-born couple turned lifetime restauranteurs in all things Italian cuisine, Rose and Brian Conte.

After the success of Café Palermo — the Wilmington-based establishment that they had owned and operated together for 13 years — the Contes had been searching for the right location to introduce the cuisine of their home country to what they were hoping to make their new home, in Bethany Beach.

But after trying to find that perfect location for more than five years, it finally found them instead, on a boardwalk day last spring.

“We just happened to be walking around on a Sunday, and then we saw it. When we saw this spot, I said, ‘Brian — this is it.’ I knew right away,” said Rose Conte of the now official location of the Pomodoro Pizzeria, next to Dickey’s Frozen Custard just off the Bethany Beach boardwalk.

Big Fish, smaller pond

Big Fish Grill makes its way to Ocean View with new location

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The Big Fish Grill front-of-house team is ready for action in Ocean View.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The Big Fish Grill front-of-house team is ready for action in Ocean View.One fish, two fish, red fish, new Fish.

Fans of the Big Fish Restaurant Group may already be keen on the group’s well-established area staples, including the classic American cuisine of the Summer House Saloon on Rehoboth Avenue and farm-to-table concept of Salt Air in Rehoboth Beach; the three Big Fish Grill locations in Rehoboth Beach, Wilmington and Glen Mills, Pa.; and the Crab House, Bella Coast Italian Kitchen, Big Fish Seafood Market; and the list going on.

But despite 10 unique operations, and nine of them in the First State, a Big Fish endeavor from restauranteurs and brothers Eric and Norman Sugrue had yet to make its way down to the southernmost Delaware beaches until this past winter.

Lord’s Landscaping looks ahead to 40th year

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert : The Lord’s Landscaping team has been serving the community for nearly 40 years, and continuesCoastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert : The Lord’s Landscaping team has been serving the community for nearly 40 years, and continuesIn 1972, after graduating from college and moving to Sussex County, Bill Lord was not planning to open a landscaping business.

“When I first moved here, I was a teacher. I was just not destined to be a teacher. My wife Donna was. Her teaching job gave me the flexibility to try to do something I really wanted to do.”

Lord left education and answered a want-ad in the paper, and worked for a landscaper in Lewes for two years. He then decided to go out on his own and, with the help of his wife’s grandfather, Amos McCabe, was able to use for his budding business some of the property in Millville that once housed Delaware Quality Feeds.

“Amos let me use a little corner office there and a little patch of ground to store some stuff,” recalled Lord. “I’d watch out after him, do some jobs for him. He never had a son… He loved me right from the get-go. He took me hunting. I had never been hunting before, you know. I’m from Philadelphia.”

Aquacare set to celebrate 10th anniversary

Coastal Point photos • Tyler Valliant: Aquacare physical therapist Lauren Nuttle demonstrates her skills on fellow employee Deanine Barclay.Coastal Point photos • Tyler Valliant: Aquacare physical therapist Lauren Nuttle demonstrates her skills on fellow employee Deanine Barclay.After 10 years in its Millville location, the staff at Aquacare Physical Therapy continues to expand its “menu” of services.

“We offer both ‘surf’ and ‘turf,’” said physical therapist Lauren Nuttle — referring to the pool-based aquatherapy available at Aquacare, as well as the “land-based” therapies offered there, too.

While the aquatherapy is obvious from the name, Nuttle said, the office offers more traditional physical therapy techniques, as well as some new ones that have just come into use in the past several years.

Nuttle said she loves the breadth of services offered at Aquacare because “I don’t have to tell someone, ‘Oh, we don’t have that here,’ or ‘We can’t do that here.’” The depth of the services allows staff at Aquacare to accept a wide range of patients, Nuttle said.

She recalled one favorite patient who had suffered several broken bones in a motorcycle accident. Thanks to the availability of the pool for therapy in which his body weight was supported — a person submerged up to his neck in water feels a loss of 90 percent of their body weight — he was able to start therapy there and follow through all the way to his complete recovery.

Hockers set to open doors to local supermarket’s future

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: State Sen. Gerald Hocker, left, and son Gerry are preparing to open their new grocery store at the former location of Harris Teeter, near Salt Pond.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: State Sen. Gerald Hocker, left, and son Gerry are preparing to open their new grocery store at the former location of Harris Teeter, near Salt Pond.On Sunday, March 26, at 9 p.m., the doors will close for the last time at G&E Supermarket on Cedar Neck Road in Ocean View.

On Thursday, March 30, at 7 a.m. the doors will open for customers one mile to the south, at the new Hocker’s Supermarket in the Salt Pond Plaza.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Gerald “Gerry” Hocker Jr., whose father, Gerald Hocker Sr., took over the Cedar Neck Road store from his Uncle Jake in 1971.

Even though Jake Hocker had the store for 18 years — less time than the 46 years Gerald Hocker Sr. has been at the helm — some longtime customers still call the store “Jake’s.”

As Gerry and Gerald Hocker stood in the new store this week, contractors swarmed like bees, and the buzzing of drills punctuated the air. Four brand new self-checkout stands at the front of the store were swathed in plastic, to protect them from sawdust.

Morning Buns: A family’s sweet dream come true

Coastal Point photos • Tyler Valliant: Lynn and Kylee Rickards pose for a photo in the new bake shop.Coastal Point photos • Tyler Valliant: Lynn and Kylee Rickards pose for a photo in the new bake shop.Kylee Rickards’ eyes light up as she describes the process of making the impossibly delicate layers of pastry that make up her croissants.

“You just keep folding them over and over on each other,” said the Culinary Institute of America graduate, who recently opened the Morning Buns Bake Shop in Ocean View, alongside her mother, Lynn Rickards. Her voice actually takes on a quiet reverence when she talks about the eight-hour process by which she transforms layers of pastry dough into buttery perfection.

“Croissants are my babies,” said Kylee, who went off to the CIA in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., after graduating from Sussex Technical High School.

The pair opened Morning Buns on Jan. 23, in a 1920s-era cottage on Atlantic Avenue (Route 26). While it wasn’t the location they had initially sought, the little house has turned out to be a perfect fit for the bakery. Its bright yellow exterior leads to an equally sunny coral and butter yellow interior, with pale green accents here and there.

On a recent morning, sun streamed through the bakery windows, glinting off the bakery case and its jewel-like contents. The sunlight gave a sugary sheen to croissants and danishes, cookies and scones. The aromas of cinnamon and coffee fill the air.

Kylee, whose studies at CIA concentrated on baking and pastries, said she arrives at the bakery each morning by around 4:30 a.m. to start on the day’s offerings. It’s a labor of love for her, and after a few years in New York and Washington, D.C., working in the quality-control side of the bakery business, she welcomed the chance to get her hands back into the butter and flour.